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Lawmaker wants hearing on Facebook tracking

November 16, 2011 |  1:25 pm

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Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), chairman of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, said Wednesday he would hold a hearing to look into reports that Facebook tracks its users on the Web after they log out.

"No company should track customers without their knowledge or consent, especially a company with 800 million users and a trove of unique personal data on its users," Rockefeller said in a statement. "If Facebook or any other company is falsely leading people to believe that they can log out of the site and not be tracked, that is alarming."

Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyes said the company uses cookies to personalize content and keep accounts secure.

"When someone logs off of Facebook, we delete certain cookies and reduce the amount of information we receive when the person visits websites that contain social plug-ins such as the Like button," he said in an emailed statement. "We have made these practices clear in our Privacy Policy and Help Center since the launch of social plug-ins. We appreciate Sen. Rockefeller's interest in protecting consumer privacy and look forward to discussing this with him."

He also said that Facebook does not sell users' information to third parties and deletes or anonymizes data within 90 days.

In September, the Electronic Privacy Information Center and other privacy watchdogs asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Facebook's tracking of users after they log off the service to see if it harms consumers and invades their privacy.

At the time two other lawmakers, Reps. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and Joe Barton (R-Texas) raised concerns in a letter to FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz. The two lawmakers, who have aggressively pursued Facebook on privacy issues, said at the time they were concerned that Facebook is tracking users without their permission.

The issue surfaced again Wednesday in USA Today.

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-- Jessica Guynn

Photo: Ranger cookies. Photo credit: Michelle Jenkins / the Daily Waffle

 

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